What  are the two most inspiring incidents in The Story of My Life by Helen Keller?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Undoubtedly, the most inspiring incident in her memoir is Keller's story of learning to communicate with Miss Sullivan through manual writing. In this very famous incident, Miss Sullivan has been trying for weeks to get Helen to understand the connection between the letters she is writing in her hand and physical objects. It is only when Helen's hand is under running water and Sullivan spells water into it that Helen makes the link. What renders this story so powerful is the utter clarity of the change Keller undergoes. In one moment of understanding, Keller's life is completely transformed for the better. It is hard not to be emotionally moved by this incident.

While there are many other inspiring incidents involving Keller's determination to move forward with her education, such as by going to Radcliffe, the other event that stands out is her tale of inadvertently plagiarizing Canby's short story about the frost fairies. While this was a very distressing episode in Keller's life, she was able to transcend the setback. We can be inspired by her honesty in dealing with it and the lesson of caution she took away from it.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Imagining the "dayless" life that Helen Keller accepted as her everyday life, is enough to alarm anyone and the fact that she could not speak makes her story even more incredible. Communication is key to everything we do and misunderstandings abound; no less for Helen Keller who struggles in The Story of My Life to make herself understood. Her tantrums become daily "sometimes hourly" as her frustrations envelop her life.

Ann Sullivan could not have arrived at a more opportune time as Helen, a naturally inquisitive child, looks for answers. The most inspiring incident then is when Ann managed to make Helen understand that everything has a name and Helen recalls "the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand" - water! (Ch 4).

Another inspiring event is when Helen meets the other blind children when she visits the Perkins institute and experiences "What joy to talk with other children in my own language!" It is probably this spirit that makes Helen Keller an inspirational symbol. She refers to her "own language" as if it is a barrier that anyone might face and recognizes her challenges as part of her existence. Helen does not make excuses for her own shortcomings but learns from "life itself."       

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial